In California, you can be charged with driving under the influence of alcohol if your blood or breath results are .08 or higher. However, if you are under 21 and you drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in your blood, you can be subject to penalties under California’s “Zero Tolerance Law”. You do not have to be impaired or found to be “under the influence” to be found guilty of the offense. The only issue is whether or not you had any measurable amount of alcohol in your system.
Having a blood alcohol level of .01% or higher is a civil offense and therefore the punishment is enforced by the Department of Motor Vehicles. A blood alcohol level of .05% – 07% is an infraction and .08% or higher is a misdemeanor.
The penalties if convicted of under age DUI vary according to the circumstances.
Violating California Vehicle Code 23136 (.01% or higher), a civil offense, is enforced by the Department of Motor Vehicles and penalties include the following:
1. A one-year suspension of the minor’s driving privilege;
2. A one-year delay in obtaining a driver’s license if the minor does not yet have a license; and
3. If the minor refuses to submit to a test, the consequence can be a one to three year suspension of their driving privilege.
A violation of Vehicle Code Section 23140 (.05% – .07%) is an infraction and subject to penalties according to the Zero Tolerance Law. The punishment may include the following:
1. A suspension of their driving privilege for one year;
2. A $100.00 fine;
3. Participation in a 3 month alcohol program; and
4. The minor may be required to participate in a Youth Drunk Driving Participation Program.
A violation of Vehicle Code Section 23152 (0.08% or higher), is a misdemeanor and may be subject to some or all of the following penalties:
1. A suspension of the minor’s driving privilege;
2. One year of incarceration;
3. Fines up to $1,000.00;
4. Court approved DUI class; and
5. Three to five years informal probation.
It is important to note that the penalties increase with each new conviction of driving under the influence.
As discussed above, the Department of Motor Vehicles has it’s own punishments/consequences for minor’s drinking and driving. The only way to fight the suspension of a license is to request an “Administrative Per Se” or APS hearing, which allows any defense to be brought to the hearing officer’s attention. This hearing must be requested within 10 days of the date of the arrest.